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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Dellums warns: Stench may spread to L.A.

As garbage piled up Friday in Alameda County amid Waste Management's lockout of Teamster drivers, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums told reporters, "Oakland and Alameda County are just the current stage for how this dispute is playing out." Referring to upcoming labor talks, Dellums said, "The lockout may be a dress rehearsal for what happens in Los Angeles."

The contract with Teamsters Local 70 expired on Sunday. Substitute trash haulers remain on the job since the lockout Monday of 481 East Bay garbage and recycling truck drivers for Waste Management, which serves residents under contracts with local governments.

A contract between Teamsters and Waste Management in Los Angeles County expires in September and could loom large in the background of the Bay Area contract rift, Dellums said.

"I understand the hardship this lockout is creating for residents in Oakland," Dellums said. "We're pursuing every legal remedy, applying pressure on both sides to come to an agreement, and we're looking at alternative ways to have the garbage collected."

The city does not own any trash trucks or have drivers to operate them, Dellums said. And complicating matters is the localized clash between nationwide entities, he said.

Officials from Waste Management Alameda County looked ahead to a meeting between the parties scheduled for Monday under the guidance of a federal mediator.

"We have been trying to engage the union in productive discussions for more than two months, and hope that the mediator will be able to help the company and the union come to an agreement on a new contract that is good for employees and the communities we serve," said James Devlin, area vice president for Waste Management.